In fall 2020, Cal Poly Pomona’s Reading, Advising, and Mentoring Program (RAMP) secured renewed federal funding that will sustain a vital student success program for underrepresented students.
The U.S. Department of Education has granted RAMP $2.2 million in funds that will support the program for the next five years. As a TRIO Student Support Services project, RAMP’s mission is to increase the retention and graduation rates of low-income, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities. The program supports about 250 students at any given time.
Throughout the academic year, RAMP participants have access to tutoring services; supplemental academic, career, and personal advising; and peer mentoring. RAMP students may also be eligible for supplemental grants for tuition, books or other educational expenses. The RAMP team, comprised of 4 staff members and 10 student tutors, also coordinate book clubs, graduate school preparation sessions, academic and financial workshops, and guest speakers.
Since the university’s switch to virtual instruction in spring 2020, students have had continued access to many RAMP resources that were converted to online formats, including tutoring, office hours, peer mentoring, advising, book club, and workshops. This semester, they added First-Gen Crew meetings to provide a space for first-generation college students to explore and discuss common concerns among first-gen students.
Many students have voiced their appreciation for the RAMP community as they face the challenges of online learning and the COVID-19 pandemic. In an end-of-term survey, a student noted that her tutor “was very helpful especially when we switched to online sessions, and kept us on track even though we were all going through difficult times. She is very positive and is always prepared.”
“RAMP prides itself in being a place where students go for tutoring, advising, and general support,” said Laura Ayon, RAMP’s director. “Our goal is to create ways for students to know that we are here to assist them. In the process of creating this sense of community, our hope is that we have contributed to their retention at Cal Poly Pomona.”
As a TRIO program, RAMP must meet specific objectives when they propose grant funding. Cal Poly Pomona set its 2018-19 goals to have at least 90 percent of the participating students persist from their first to second year; 90 percent reach good academic standing; and at least 60 percent of RAMP students graduate within 6 years.
As in previous years, RAMP exceeded their goals: of the students RAMP served in the 2018-19 academic year, 97 percent returned to Cal Poly Pomona in fall 2019. Ninety-six percent of the students were in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better. For students who joined RAMP in 2013-14, 81 percent of them graduated within six years. The success of meeting previous years’ goals were factors in receiving the grant.
“This grant renewal is really a testament to Laura and the entire RAMP team’s hard work in transforming student lives,” said Dora Lee, director of academic support and learning services. “We are so excited about the grant renewal and how it’ll shape RAMP’s future.”
RAMP was established at Cal Poly Pomona in 1988. For more information about the program, visit the RAMP website.